6 Answers

  1. A meritocracy is a system in which rewards (including promotions) are based on achievements and do not depend on other factors, such as family or friendships, gender, race, height, age, or sexual orientation.

    In many countries, meritocracy is used in one way or another. For example, in France, the equivalent of the Russian Unified State Exam determines admission to elite universities, which, in turn, is the main factor for a successful career in the future. Of course, meritocratic principles are primarily used in democratic countries. In dictatorial regimes, especially in countries rich in natural resources, the dictator primarily values loyalty, not competence (about this – the well-known work of Georgy Yegorov and Konstantin Sonin “Dictators and Their Viziers: Endogenizing the Loyalty-Competence Trade-Off”). But there are exceptions – for example, modern China. In China, family ties are very important (for example, Xi Jinping's father was Deputy Chairman of the State Council of the People's Republic of China). But a number of studies show that in modern China, regional party leaders are more likely to get promoted if their region shows higher economic growth rates. It is quite possible that the Chinese Communist Party managed to build meritocratic mechanisms because meritocracy is one of the main Confucian values. For more than a thousand years, selection for public service in Imperial China was based on the results of state examinations, which were open to men of almost any background.

    Meritocratic mechanisms are also found in Russia. In order not to be unfounded, I will give a few examples that I know personally and do not doubt the authenticity of which. Admission to the Russian School of Economics was based on the results of written exams (including international GRE and TOEFL tests) and did not depend on other factors. Appointment to the position of permanent professor at NES was determined on the basis of scientific achievements, which were evaluated by anonymous reviewers (leading world experts in this field) and an independent committee (dominated by foreign scientists). Elections to the Supervisory Board of Sberbank were held fairly, no pressure was exerted on shareholders, and votes were considered independent organizations.

    The author of the question is most likely referring to the lack of full-scale implementation of meritocracy as a system for selecting senior personnel in government agencies and corporations. Of course, there are countries where selection systems are based on anti-meritocratic principles. But even in those countries where the goal of the system is to find the most worthy, the system should take into account not only objective achievements. The reason for this is simple : there is no obvious single criterion (or a single combination of criteria) by which managers should be selected. Personality traits (intelligence and emotional intelligence) are hard to measure, and their measurable components can never accurately predict success in a new job. The achievements of the past years are useful, but they also can not give an absolute guarantee in a new position – after all, you will have to do other work, cooperate with another team, and the world around you is constantly changing. That is why systems built exclusively on meritocracy are subject to well-deserved criticism. Is it reasonable to determine a person's career based on the results of only one exam, which students take at the age of 18 (as is done in France)? Should we take into account only the rate of economic growth in the region , or should we also consider changes in the level of inequality, the state of the environment, and other indicators of socio-economic development? And how many of these indicators should I use? In the mid-2000s, the Russian Presidential Administration developed a list of more than 100 criteria for evaluating the performance of governors. This system didn't work for obvious reasons. If there are too many criteria, it means that there are no criteria.

    Therefore, one way or another, not only objective, but also subjective assessments are necessary. It would seem that it would be possible to evaluate potential managers anonymously (so that the decision-makers on the appointment would not know either the gender, age, or race of the candidate). But when it comes to a manager, one of the key elements of success is personal communication skills, so anonymous decision-making is impossible.

    This is why instead of meritocratic principles, politics eventually uses democratic principles, and business uses market principles. Each voter evaluates the quality of candidates according to their own criteria, so elections aggregate all information available to the public. Investors also use all the data available to them and evaluate the quality of the manager when buying or selling shares. Thus, the stock price reflects the manager's assessment by the market. Of course, both voters and investors can make mistakes. But in the end, their decisions are more reasonable than the rules established by several experts for evaluating managers – including because voters and investors have access not only to information about the candidate's biography and intellectual abilities, but also to all the other information about how well he is suitable for this position.

  2. In principle, the scientific community is an ideal place for implementing meritocracy, since there are clear criteria for achievement and the opinion of all people, but only experts, does not matter. In fact, ideally science should be a 100% meritocracy, but in reality this is impossible.

    It seems to me that this is a matter of human nature. Man is a social animal, he tends to enter into social relations. Even more, they can't help but engage in social relationships, except in clinical cases. And this inevitably undermines the foundations of meritocratic mechanisms of system formation. Any social connections are practically guaranteed to destroy the meritocracy in its purest form. Someone is friends with someone, someone is hostile with someone, someone can help with a grant, someone can interfere with an article, etc. etc. So many different hirschs have been invented to get rid of this, but as long as people make science, I don't think it's possible.

  3. Vatican City.

    Of course, the concept is such that you can always challenge how well it is implemented. And yet, if you try to characterize the Vatican with one of the existing concepts of power, then it is just a meritocracy.

  4. It is naive to believe that politicians can implement meritocracy. Politicians in power have a big defect: they are not competent in all areas of professional activity for which they make laws. It is well known that a person cannot embrace the vast (Kozma Prutkov reminds us of this many times). And an insufficiently competent person cannot be the best, he will definitely cause complaints from the executors of laws. Who hasn't heard the exclamations: “Don't �need to help us. The main thing is not to interfere!”. There is an idea of a non-political system, called ” technocracy “(the power of professionals), and even its theory was laid down by Plato. And meritocracy can only be realized on the basis of it.

  5. Pure meritocracy does not exist because it is not optimal.

    Here it is important to separate meritocracy as an idea or its practical implementation.

    Meritocracy as an idea is organized as a positive feedback loop between skills, hard work and education, and status in society, which may not necessarily be monetary. For some of the countries that have adopted the scientific and technological paradigm of development, it is empirically clear that meritocracy contributes to Darwinian conservation and development of states. Long-term deviation from meritocracy leads countries into economic decline.

    The most interesting thing is to simulate the implementation of this idea in life. The closest analogue is the problem known as multi-armed bandit, which is a reference model for decision-making in noisy, probabilistic systems (many people), where only a part of the variables is observable (such as formal signs of qualification in the form of a diploma or past experience). Making a decision is always a balance between trying a new solution (in our case, a new manager) or choosing someone who was the best manager in the past (exploration / exploitation trade off).

    Surprisingly, the constant choice of the best manager in the past (pure meritocracy) leads to an error (regret function) that grows linearly with the number of selection attempts (which is very bad) slightly better than the random choice of a manager. The problem is that in this case, everything is occupied by the exploitation phase, and not the exploration phase.

    Including new candidates in the selection that can only be better in a probabilistic sense leads to the error starting to grow logarithmically. It can be shown that slower growth is not possible, and a solution with logarithmic error growth is considered to be the optimal “solution”. Therefore, the presence of local deviations from meritocracies is important for the system to find its global optimum.

    According to my observations, in countries like Germany, Korea, and the United States, the system efficiently selects managers up to the middle level, which provides a ground layer for the economy and prevents mistakes from spreading very far from above. For top managers, the situation is much more noisy because there are fewer of them and there are more idiosyncratic factors in their selection. Maybe the presence or absence of meritocracy in top management is not important from the point of view of Darwinian selection. The main thing is that meritocracy is maintained at the average level of management.

  6. Meritocracy has been implemented. This is how great empires were created.

    For Genghis Khan, this was the main principle in the personnel issue. His main managers were simple children of shepherds, if they showed their abilities.

    The same principles were followed in Singapore, and together with Lee Kuan Yew, they transformed their country from a poor country to a leading one.

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